Frequently Asked Questions
For Buying a Solar Pool System
Ask about solar today…
According to government tallies,
more solar collectors have been made for swimming pool heating
than all other uses combined!
With all that you've been reading and hearing about
solar energy, you probably have a lot of questions. The following
may answer some of them for you.
Q Why would I want my pool heated?
You probably bought your pool for many reasons like family
fun, entertaining friends, exercise, those quiet relaxing moments
or perhaps even for therapeutic reasons. You spent a lot of
time making the decision to invest in a quality pool, furniture,
fencing and accompanying items that go along with a pool. But
if your pool is frequently too cold to swim in comfortably,
you are not realizing the full benefit of your significant
investment. Solar pool heating can effectively double the length
of your pool season.
Q What is the best type of collector to use?
Unlike other solar pool heating systems that use tubes welded
to each other or loose tubes, the Solar Industries collector
uses a patented tube and curved web design that relieves
stress caused by expansion and contraction. Solar Industries
collectors are engineered with a direct flow system to provide
optimum flow without restrictions that can cause excessive
back pressure on your pool filtration system performance.
Other collectors that use a sub-plenum create back pressure
that reduces your filtration system performance. Our proven
design has been in continuous operation for more than 25
years making Solar Industries the number one choice of satisfied
swimming pool owners around the world.
Q Is a pool heating system easy to operate?
Yes, most solar systems are completely automatic and are as
simple to operate as any fossil fuel heater.
Q How much will a solar pool heater cost?
The monthly payments on
a solar pool heating system will be much less than the
for fuel do to the same
amount of heating. In other words, you have instantaneous “payback”.
After the system has been paid off, it will pay large
dividends to you, each and every year, in the forms
of cash and added
comfort. Remember if you didn't have the solar heater,
you would have a large fuel bill, the money can now
be used for other purposes. Even if you aren't presently
your pool, a solar heater can provide you with economic
benefits. The financial equation is simple: increase
the return on investment
in your pool up to 30% and increase your fun, enjoyment,
and swimming season by as much as 100%.
Q In simple terms, how does a solar pool heating system work?
Using the pump that circulates
pool water through the filter,
the water is diverted so that it flows though the many
small passages of the solar collector, it's warmed by
This warm water then flows directly back into the
pool. When the pool is has reached your desirable comfort
the water then by-passes the solar collector and returns
directly to the pool.
Q How much will my solar heater
cost to operate?
Since the sun energy is free, there are no operating costs
to heat your pool.
Q What size system will I need for my pool?
There are many factors which affect this answer. These include:
the size of the pool, how long you want to extend your comfortable
swimming season, the wind on the pool, the average relative
humidity in your area, and the tilt and orientation of the
solar collectors. The solar installer will use this to design
the proper solar collection system for your pool.
Q Do the solar collectors
have to face south?
Not necessarily. The solar collectors should
just be installed where they can be in the sun a portion of
the day. Depending
on the angle of the mounting surface east and west facing the
system can function equally as well.
Q Can these collectors also be used to heat a spa?
Yes. However, unlike a pool heater,
if you plan to use your spa in the evening, you'll require
a backup gas or electric heater. This backup heater will only
have to pick
up the last few degrees so it will operate a lot less than
it would without solar, and that means that you save a lot
of fuel dollars.
Q How long can I expect my Solar Industries collectors to
Solar Industries is the only solar pool heating collector that
has survived a grueling 23 year life expectancy test performed
in the Arizona desert. In addition, Solar Industries offers
the strongest warranties in the industry, which are backed
up by actual field experience since 1976.
Q Why should I buy Solar Industries solar pool heating system?
· The Solar
Industries collector has been in continuous production
& service since 1976.
· It's backed by the strongest warranty in the industry.
· It has been engineered as a completely integrated system to
exacting specifications and quality control to
provide you with extended trouble-free performance.
· Superior components, including stainless steel hardware.
· The Solar Industries solar pool heating system has been tested
and its performance certified by accredited independent
laboratories and approval agencies.
Q How qualified are Solar Industries dealers?
Authorized Solar Industries dealers have earned a reputation
for their skill and dependability. They are thoroughly trained
craftsman and familiar with every detail of installation
and service. They provide added assurance of continued satisfaction.
Solar Industries has dealers and distributors throughout
Q Where can I find out more about the Solar Industries solar
pool heating system?
That's easy! Click on www.thesolarenergycompany.com and
fill out the "Contact Us" Form and email it to us today for
Buying a Solar Electric System
Are you thinking about
generating your own electricity? Here
are some Frequently Asked Questions that can help you decide
if investing in a solar electric system is right for you.
Q What is a solar
electric or photovoltaic system?
Solar electric or photovoltaic
(PV) systems use the sun's
energy to make electricity. PV technology produces direct current
electricity by collecting electrons freed by the interaction
between sunlight and the semiconductor materials in PV cell.
Q Why should I consider buying a PV system?
A PV system reduces or eliminates
the amount of electricity you purchase from the utility
or electric service provider.
A PV system can save you money on your electricity
bill and acts as a hedge against future price increases.
generated by your PV system is clean, renewable
and reliable. You can help your community by reducing
the load on the utility
grid and you can provide additional electricity
for the grid when you generate more than you use during
the day, when
electricity demand is highest.
Q Do I have a good site for PV?
Your site must have clear,
unobstructed access to the sun. Buildings, trees or other
vegetation should not shade your
site. South facing roof exposure is best, but roofs
facing east and west may be OK. If a rooftop is not available,
PV system can also be mounted on the ground.
Q What should the size of my PV system be?
can match the size of your system to your electricity
needs and budget. The average household in
California uses about
6,500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. If your usage
is typical of the average household, a system in the
3 to 4 kilowatt
(kW) range would be adequate to meet most of your
electricity needs. To estimate the best system size for
your home or
business, examine your electricity usage for the
last 12 months and apply this easy formula.
Annual Usage 1 kW System Output System Capacity
6,500 kWh divided 1750 kWh = 3.71 kW
A system with a capacity of 1kW can produce about 1750 kWh
per year. Divide your annual electricity usage (in kWh per
year) by 1750 kWh to get the system size (capacity in kilowatts)
that would meet most of your electricity needs. If you want
your PV system to meet half of your electricity needs, then
you should size it to meet half of your annual electrical usage.
Or you can offset only a small portion of your electricity
bill with a single PV panel. If you size your system larger
then your average electrical needs, for example to meet your
highest electricity needs on summer afternoons, your system
would generate more electricity then you could use during the
rest of the year.
Q How much mounting space do I need?
A small PV system can use
as little as 50 square feet. A larger system to meet the
needs of a typical household would use
between 300 to 600 square feet. As a rule of thumb,
100 square feet of PV area produces 1 kilowatt of electricity.
Q Are there any special features I should consider?
An inverter is needed to change the direct current (DC) power
from the solar panels alternating current (AC) electricity
to power your electrical devices and to be compatible with
the electric grid. Batteries can provide back-up-power for
your home or business in case of grid outages, but also increase
Q How much does a PV system cost?
Although many factors affect the cost, an average PV system
cost from $9 to $10 dollars a watt, including installation,
or $18,000 to $20,000 for a 2kW system.
Q Are there any incentives or rebates available?
YES! The California Energy
Commission Emerging Renewables Buy Down Account offers
cash rebates on
eligible PV systems. You can
get a rebate on eligible PV systems. You can get
a rebate of $4.00 per watt or up to 50 percent of the total
system cost, whichever is less. For example, for
a 2kW system costing $20,000 installed, the rebate amount
$8500 (the $4.00 per watt rebate applies because
it is lower than 50 percent of the total cost.)
Q Am I eligible for a rebate?
If you live in the electricity
service territory of Pacific Gas and Electric Company,
Southern California Edison Company,
San Diego Gas and Electric Company, LA Department
of Water and Power you are eligible for the Emerging Renewables
Buy down rebate. Either
system retailer can apply for the rebate.
Q What do I need to know about connecting my PV system to
You will need to enter
into an Interconnection Agreement with your utility.
addresses the terms and conditions
under which your system will be safely connected to
the grid. The agreement also specifies the metering
Net Metering) Net Metering allows you to “bank” any
surplus electricity your system generates on the electric
Excess electricity might be generated during the day when
your system produces more electricity than you need. Your meter
would simply run backwards to record the amount of electricity
banked on the grid. You can use an equal amount of electricity
later without incurring any additional cost. If you use more
electricity from the grid than you have banked, your utility
will charge you annually for the difference. (Please refer
to the Energy Commission's ABC's of net metering
for more information.)
Q How do I find a PV retailer?
The California Energy Commission
and the California Solar Energy Industries Association
provide lists of PV retailers. Retailers
either can provide installation or can refer you
to installation contractors in your area. Try to find a
company located in
the area where your system will be installed. Price
is only one factor when selecting a PV company and/or contractor.
You can also fill out the form under the menu item "Contact
Us" on this web site for additional information.
A B C’S OF Net Metering
Did you know that Net
Metering could save you money on your electric bill? Here
are some answers to commonly asked questions about how net
metering works and what it could mean for you.
Q What is Net Metering?
measures the difference between the electricity you buy
utility and electricity you generate
using your own solar or wind generating equipment. Your
meter keeps track of this “net” difference
as you generate electricity and take electricity from the
electricity transmission grid. When you generate more than
you use, your electric meter spins backward!
Q Am I eligible?
You are eligible
for the Net Metering if you are a residential or small
commercial electricity customer in California,
and generate at least some of your electricity using solar
or wind energy, or a combination of both, with a system
capacity of one megawatt or less. Your electric generating
system must be located on your premises and connected to
Q How does Net Metering work?
Metering is a special metering and billing agreement between
you and your utility or electric service provider
(ESP). Normally your electric meter spins forward as it
measures how many kilowatt-hours of electricity you buy,
and is read by your utility once a month.
A Net Metering agreement allows you to use the electricity
you generate first, reducing what you would normally buy
from your utility or ESP. If you generate more electricity
than you use, the excess goes through your electric meter
and into the grid, spinning your meter backward. Your meter
shows the net amount, measured as the difference between
the electricity you generate and the electricity you purchase
from your utility or ESP.
are the benefits of Net Metering?
Net Metering is a simple
way to get full value of the electricity you generate.
For example, if you are a residential
customer, you may not be home during the day when your
system generates electricity. Net Metering allows you to “store” this
excess electricity on the grid, reducing or offsetting
the electricity you would otherwise have to purchase.
The Net Metering law has
recently been expanded to allow “time
of use” agreements that place a higher value on electricity
during peak times of high demand, such as on weekdays from
noon to 6pm during summer months. This could mean savings
for you if your excess generation occurs during peak hours,
and your electricity use occurs mostly during off-peak
or partial off-peak hours. If you generate more than you
use during the afternoon, the electricity you put on the
grid is valued at a higher price than electricity you consume
in the late evening or early morning, when you are charged
a lower price rate.
Another benefit of Net Metering
is the “baseline” rate
you are charged for the net electricity you consume. The
baseline is a given amount of electricity you consume.
The baseline is a given amount of electricity for your
home or business; you are charged a lower rate for each
kilowatt-hour of electricity you consume below the baseline,
and a higher rate above it. If your system is sized to
offset most of your electricity needs, you are charged
a lower rate for the minimal electricity you purchase from
your utility if your annual net consumption falls at or
Net Metering offers additional
benefits, depending on the size of your generating system.
If you purchase a smaller,
less expensive system, you can still offset most or all
of your electricity needs because of the higher value of
your “bank” or store your excess electricity
on the grid and offset all of the electricity you would
otherwise purchase form your utility or ESP.
Q How will
I be billed under Net Metering?
Your utility will continue
to read your meter monthly. Under a Net Metering agreement,
you will receive a monthly
statement indicating the net amount of electricity you
consumed or generated during that billing period.
On the anniversary of your agreement,
you will be billed for the net electricity you consumed
for the previous twelve
months. You may request the option of monthly billing.
Depending on the type of agreement you have, your meter
might show a credit during some or all-billing periods
even though the actual kilowatt-hours you generate and
consume are equal.
Your utility is not required to
pay you or credit your account for you excess generation
each year, but it might
do so. Contact your utility or ESP to discuss the option
of negotiating rates for purchasing excess generation.
If your current utility or ESP does not purchase excess
electricity, you may contract with another company that
will agree to purchase it.
Q What size should my generating
To be eligible for a Net Metering agreement in
California, generating systems cannot have peak power output
than one megawatt. Although a minimum size is not required,
most residential systems range between two and four kilowatts.
Your system size will depend on your needs and how much
electricity you want to generate. You can also build your
system by starting small and expanding over time. As long
as your total system output is not greater than one megawatt,
this modular approach of still allowable.
Q Can I use my current electric
Most residential and small
commercial customers have sample meter that is bi-directional,
capable of turning in both
directions. Some utilities or ESP’s may want two
meters for net metering, one to measure electricity going
from the grid to your home or business, and one to measure
the excess going from your system to the grid. If your
utility wants two, unidirectional meters, they must pay
for them, not you. If you enter into a time-of –use
billing agreement, you will need to purchase a bi-directional
time –of-use meter. Contact your utility for more
Q How do I sign up?
Contact your utility or ESP and ask if they offer Net Metering.
Your ESP and the company that
distributes electricity to you may be the same or different
companies. Your ESP handles the billing and accounting
for Net Metering, while your local distribution company
(LDC) handles how your generating system is connected to
the grid. You and your LDC may also need to enter into
an Interconnection Agreement, which will outline the requirements
for safely connecting your generating system to the grid.
the system to your grid, you LDC cannot:
to purchase or pay for any meters beyond
the simple bi-directional meter that you probably
already have, with the exception of time-of –use
Impose any requirements, standards, or tests on
your system – of
it meets existing national standards for
Require you to purchase any additional
Require you to buy your electricity from
them for their affiliates
Other common questions about Net Metering
Q If my generating system produces
more electricity than I need, is my utility or ESP required
to buy it from me?
Utilities or ESP’s may, but are not required to
purchase any excess electricity you produce at the end
of each year of your net metering agreement. State laws
says that they do not have to buy your net generation.
However, some ESP’s especially those specializing
in selling “green” electricity. May be willing
to buy your excess solar or wind electricity to re-sell
to their other customers.
Q Will I have to pay for special
meters inspections or fees to get my system hooked up
to the grid?
You are only responsible for having a simple,
bi-directional meter, the type you probably already have,
unless you decide
to purchase a time of use meter. If your generating system
meets national safety and performance standards, you
cannot be charged for additional tests, certifications
Q Will the electricity I might
still need to buy from a utility meter or ESP costume
more than before I became
a Net Metered customer?
No, your utility or ESP cannot
charge you more for electricity because you are a Net-Metered
customer, and not charges
can be imposed on the electricity you generate.